My Unfinished Inglourious Basterds Essay: 10,000 words, 12 years, one unfinished draft

The cast of Inglourious Basterds, with writer-director Quentin Tarantino (seated, second from right)

On March 9, 2010, I started an essay on Inglourious Basterds.

I wrote it on and off until May of 2011, and then stopped, with no further progress.

Now, in June 2022, I am declaring it officially unfinished for reasons I will explain here. To read my annotated draft of this essay — 10,000+ words, with screenshots from the movie — click here. If you’re a fellow writer and you want to talk shop, you should be able to drop comments directly in the Google Doc. If not, hit me in the comment section here, or on Twitter, or at readjack6@gmail.com.

Now then… what happened?

Continue reading “My Unfinished Inglourious Basterds Essay: 10,000 words, 12 years, one unfinished draft”

The complete history of Black NFL starting quarterbacks — ranked by franchise

***September 8, 2021 NOTE***

With the 2021 season kicking off tomorrow night, it’s time to finalize the updated version of this article. Data is updated through the 2020 season and 2021 NFL Draft, and in the event that numbers changed in 2020, or could change in 2021, the team blurbs are updated too.

I won’t be updating data through the season on any consistent schedule, so as always, if you want to use this piece as a source at any point in the 2021 season and need updated figures, please reach out to me at readjack6@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter.

Lastly, I caught some mistakes on the 2020 data, and obviously if this were published anywhere but on my independent blog, other people would check my numbers with me. If you see a mistake, please tell me. Thank you!

Best,

Jack

***April 30, 2021 NOTE***

I was already working to update this post, and planned to release new numbers after the draft. In light of the Bears selecting Justin Fields in the 1st round, I ran through my spreadsheet and updated everything there.

I will still update this overall story, but if you’re a journalist, radio/pod host, blogger, whatever, and you’re using this as a source, feel free to email me at readjack6@gmail.com or DM me on Twitter, but this spreadsheet is up to date. Thank you!

Best,

Jack

***

ORIGINAL INTRO, 17 SEP. 2020

This all started last November, when a pair of Bears-related news stories intersected and sent me down a rabbit hole.

The first came Nov. 12, when Rich Campbell and Dan Wiederer of the Tribune did a deep dive on Ryan Pace’s decision to draft Mitch Trubisky in 2017 over both Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes, including the unsettling details that Pace and co. never met Watson for a private workout or dinner, and that they drafted Trubisky in part because Pace — who came from the Saints — was looking for “the next Drew Brees.”

The second came four days later, when Colin Kaepernick held a workout for all 32 teams, with only a handful sending representatives, seemingly not the Bears.

The Bears were 4-5 at the time, and would drop to 4-6 shortly after, with Trubisky struggling the year after what seemed like his breakout season. Trubisky’s struggles combined with the great play of Mahomes and Watson combined with the Tribune story combined with the Kaepernick workout led to a lot of conversation about the Bears’ quarterback decisions (what else is new).

But among many Black Bears fans, and plenty of white ones too, these events brought more debates on whether the Bears organization fundamentally did not want a Black quarterback to lead the franchise. I was involved in plenty of these debates, and had wondered about this myself, since the team has only had one long-term Black starting QB in my conscious fan life, Kordell Stewart in 2003, and only two in the franchise’s history, with Vince Evans the other.

As a result of this question, I wanted to see what the numbers said. This article is the results of that search.

Methodology

To track this data, I started with Greg Howard’s invaluable two-part series on Deadspin in 2014, “The Big Book of Black Quarterbacks.” I wrote down all of those names, and then used Pro Football Reference to check their starts. I also followed a lot of the exemplary work from The Undefeated, including its 2017 story on the first Black starting QB per franchise.

(And though I did not use it in my research, I highly recommend this Football Outsiders from February called “The 100-Year History of Black Quarterbacks in the NFL.”)

For my list, I made George Taliaferro on the 1953 Colts the starting point of what constitutes a quarterback. 1950 was the year when the NFL changed its substitution rules, ending the era of the automatic two-way player and creating specialty around the quarterback position.

1953 was also the year that the Bears signed Michigan State’s Willie Thrower, who is credited as the first Black traditional QB in the league.

Once I had my list, I counted starts in both the regular season and playoffs. I also tabulated each franchise’s percentage of games that a Black quarterback started out of total games in franchise history, albeit starting in 1953.

I also looked at how each team has drafted quarterbacks in the first four rounds since 1995; the first four rounds, because you draft a QB that high, he’s your future starter. (I’ll explain the 1995 cutoff very soon, in the Titans/Oilers section.)

Lastly, if you’re interested, here is my spreadsheet. It’s not really made for public consumption — this is more a “peak behind the curtain” scenario. I will be updating it periodically, and there are also tabs that are very much works in progress. As such, if you want to cite it in a tweet, article, wherever, check with me first at readjack6@gmail.com, or hit me on Twitter.

Enough chatter. On the 100-year anniversary of the meeting that launched the NFL, and in the season when a record 10 Black quarterbacks started in Week 1, here are the results.

(Note: As of 9/9/21, numbers are through the conclusion of the 2020 season.)

Continue reading “The complete history of Black NFL starting quarterbacks — ranked by franchise”

An Open Letter to the Chicago Bulls

Open Letter graphic (Chicago Audible design)

Note from Jack: The following is the latest in a series of open letters to the owners of Chicago’s major sports teams, asking them to release stronger, more tangible statements opposing police violence, specifically against Black lives.

We started June 8, with a letter to the McCaskey family, published jointly on Windy City Gridiron, Chicago Audible and Da Bears Blog, along with a letter to Jerry Reinsdorf and White Sox management published at both South Side Sox and South Side Hit Pen.

On June 9, Bleed Cubbie Blue joined us with an open letter to the Ricketts family.

Today, Locked on Bulls and other members of the Bulls community are publishing an open letter to Jerry, Michael and Nancy Reinsdorf. You can read it on Medium, and below.

— Jack Silverstein, June 11, 2020

Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Chicago Bulls”

“With whom do you wish you could have played a scene?” — question for cast members of The Wire

Back in 2014, during The Wire marathon on HBO, I started tweeting to cast members a simple question:

“With whom do you wish you could have played a scene?”

After all, there are so many fabulous actors on The Wire, and many never got to do a scene together, despite so many cast members — regardless of season — becoming friends or at least friendly off camera.

I grouped all of the responses in a Storify file, but unfortunately the site closed down and the post is gone. So I’ve re-configured them here, in order in which I received them, and I’ll keep this post updated if and when I get more.

Best,

Jack

Continue reading ““With whom do you wish you could have played a scene?” — question for cast members of The Wire”

6 Rings: the true story of the Chicago Bulls dynasty

 

1996 Bulls GOAT

Twenty years ago, the dynasty ended.

The Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson won six championships in eight seasons and reshaped the NBA forever.

My latest story celebrates their final game together, Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, and completes (for now, I guess) an ongoing series of pieces that I have written over the past 13 years on what was easily my favorite era as a sports fan.

Here, all together, are those pieces about “YOUR World Champion Chicago Bulls!”

I will never get tired of hearing that. Continue reading “6 Rings: the true story of the Chicago Bulls dynasty”

A Look Back At Michael Jordan’s Flu Game 20 Years Later

An unknown stat makes that legendary game even more impressive and helps explain why fans get angry when stars rest.

(Originally published June 8, 2017, at the now defunct 16WinsARing.com)

If you want to fully understand Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game,” you first have to understand one of Michael Jordan’s greatest statistics: 357.

It’s a stat that is rarely discussed. The number most associated with MJ, besides 23, is 6. As in “6 rings.” Once upon a time, MJ’s career was defined by a melange of numbers. People thought about 63 and 69. They pictured him in 9 and 45. They were astounded by 7, and later 10, for his scoring titles. They grimaced at .202 and glowed with pride over 72–10.

Now, it’s 6. The only number of consequence. The one MJ chased more than any other. The one to which he drunkenly crooned after reaching it in 1998. He started counting after the first championship, flashing victorious fingers. Two in 1992. Three in ’93. Four in ’96. Five in ’97. Six in ‘98.

No number in NBA history serves as more of a mic drop in current hoops debates than MJ’s 6. The figure may be augmented in different ways, like “6–0” (his Finals record) or “6 for 6” (his Finals MVPs). But, unquestionably, 6 is the number. He likes it like that.

I like it too. I also like 357. Continue reading “A Look Back At Michael Jordan’s Flu Game 20 Years Later”

Debunking the bogus “Colin Kaepernick is bad — he went 1-10” argument

The 2017 NFL season begins tonight, and every argument about why Colin Kaepernick remains out of the NFL has been debunked — except one.

“He is bad — he went 1-10!”

Nonsense.

Yes, Kaepernick was 1-10 last season for the 2-14 49ers, but history tells us that a crappy record in merely one season is not enough to land a quarterback on the NFL’s unemployment list.

After all, Kaepernick’s 2016 was the 38th time in NFL/AFL history in which a quarterback in at least his 6th season won 3 or fewer games while losing 9 or more. Thirty-one quarterbacks other than Kaepernick produced such a season. Only two never played again. Continue reading “Debunking the bogus “Colin Kaepernick is bad — he went 1-10” argument”

We are the champions. The Cubs are the champions.

unnamed

To know why a Cubs win can elicit fireworks on a Wednesday night and grandparents giggling and strangers hugging on the moonlit streets of Chicago, Illinois, you have to first know what broke those people. Mine was Game 7, 2003. I couldn’t drink after that game. I was in college and I was too sad to drink.

I called my parents on my walk home that night and kept muttering variations of “I thought they’d do it. I really thought they’d do it.” My mother comforted me. Then my father took the phone, heard me out, and said:

“Just wait till it gets bad.” Continue reading “We are the champions. The Cubs are the champions.”

The Wire Season 4: Marlo Stanfield, Baltimore’s serial killer

the-wire-marlo-stanfield-straight-and-true-headband

The genius of the character of Marlo Stanfield is that a textless, bold-colored headband came to feel too flashy.

He opened without one, an intro so perfect yet under the radar because the scene is about Bubbles, not this unnamed, previously unknown character whose first appearance departing a building is teamed with the sound of a bird chirping, as if Marlo is a hawk fledging from his nest and preparing to hunt the people of Baltimore like squirrels.

Continue reading “The Wire Season 4: Marlo Stanfield, Baltimore’s serial killer”